DOE optimistic about natgas discovery in Recto Bank

By Cathy Rose A. Garcia,

Posted at Apr 24 2012 11:26 AM | Updated as of Apr 25 2012 12:35 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Energy (DOE) is optimistic about the reported discovery of natural gas in Recto Bank.

In an interview on ANC's Headstart, Energy Secretary Rene Almendras said he is still waiting for the official report about the natural gas discovery in Recto Bank from company conducting explorations there.

"But reading their statements, I can't help but smile and be happy, if it's true and big and there are resources that will help us face the need for energy in the future," he said.

Almendras emphasized that Service Contract 72, also known as Recto Bank, is not part of the disputed Spratly islands, which is being claimed by China and other southeast Asian countries. Recto Bank is located 80 kilometers from Palawan.

"From 1976 to 2008, the Philippines has been exploring these areas to which no complaint has been received from any Chinese government or entity. It was only recently when there were these issues," he said.

Experts, the DOE chief said, have always believed the Philippines may have significant natural gas reserves.

"We in the Philippines are told by experts that we may actually be very blessed with natgas. This is precisely why the DOE has launched an energy contracting round wherein we identified 15 new areas that we're offering to international companies to look for gas," Almendras said.

"Why are people a bit positive on gas? Because we found Malampaya and Malampaya will provide us with enough energy for 2,750 megawatts and roughly 40% of Luzon's generation comes from the natgas of Malampaya. If we find more of it, we can use it to drive transport and industry," he added.

Malampaya natural gas field currently supplies 40% of power generation to Luzon, but the supply is expected to run out by 2024.

Demand for natural gas, especially in Asia, is very high. Japan is one of the countries that buys a lot of natgas. Natural gas is seen as an ideal alternative to oil because it is clean and environment friendly.

"There's no social impact because it's clean... no environmental impact, and the economics work. It's not just there (Recto Bank). We need to look all over the Philippines," Almendras said.